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5 lesser known things that lead to hypertension

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High blood pressure is rightly called a ‘silent killer’, which, if left unaddressed can raise the risk of heart stroke, attack, kidney damage, or dementia.

High blood pressure (140/ 90 mmHg or higher) is dangerous and can lead to hypertension.

Fortunately, high blood pressure or hypertension is preventable with lifestyle modifications and diet.

While some factors are common that cause high blood pressure like obesity, alcohol intake, smoking, family history, or sedentary lifestyle, several factors are uncommon and lesser known and identified as surprising culprits:

1. Low Vitamin D levels

It’s a long-known fact that vitamin D deficiency causes weaker bones and hair loss. But when it comes to cardiovascular health, the critical role of vitamin D is uncommon. The deficiency can disturb calcium homeostasis in the body which is further linked to insulin resistance and systemic inflammation. International studies suggest vitamin D is indirectly associated with cardiovascular health. Maintaining good vitamin levels helps strengthen bones and muscles, relieves stress, aids in healthy weight management, and facilitates all other factors that lead to high blood pressure.

2. Sleep Apnea

Healthcare practitioners and sleep experts suggest a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep every night may elevate factors such as stress, mood swings, and hormonal imbalances, affecting overall health. Apart from this, sleep affects the blood pressure of the body. Sleep deprivation causes blood pressure levels to rise by affecting metabolic health and increasing stress in the body, directly exacerbating heart health.

3. High intake of processed food

People rely too heavily on packaged and processed foods in today’s fast-paced world. Eatables like fast foods, chips, cookies, canned soups, and sauces are loaded with excessive sodium, which directly impacts blood pressure. More salt in the blood pulls water from the surrounding tissues of the blood vessels, which increases blood volume, causing high blood pressure. Furthermore, processed food items lead to weight gain, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood. The recommended cap for consuming sodium is 2300 mg per day, and its intake beyond the recommended value is dangerous for cardiovascular health.

4. Social isolation

It is human psychology to keep themselves occupied with work and social media. One may not necessarily feel stressed about experiencing short-term loneliness or isolation. However, prolonged isolation can trigger the release of stress hormones in overabundance, leading to depression. This spikes blood pressure and may even elate beyond the normal range. There is no doubt that chronic loneliness is associated with depression and directly correlates with depression, weight gain and an increase in blood pressure.

5. Common medications

Even during normal headaches or joint pains, we take medicines. It is imperative to be mindful while heading to the medicine cabinet. Certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can raise blood pressure. Using these anti-inflammatory medicines is a significant relief in curing short-term illnesses. If their use persists for extended periods, it can narrow the blood vessels making it difficult for the heart to pump the blood. This causes more pressure on the heart, raising blood pressure levels.

The takeaway

Not having symptoms of high blood pressure is not a relief. It is advisable not to overlook the biggest drivers of high blood pressure. Adopting a healthy and active lifestyle with an unprocessed diet and fresh air can help the body release happy hormones, manage weight and be less dependent on medications. It is always better to have a regular screening session with your doctor if diagnosed with hypertension or high blood pressure to reduce the alteration of life.

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